The South by Cycle Bikepacking Trail network is a collection of natural sights, cultural history and romantic countryside connected by some of the best gravel roads and gravel-bike-friendly single track . The routes flow from village to village through the endless lush coastal forests connecting the hotels, restaurants and pubs as well as and the many wilderness shelters of the Uusimaa and Kymenlaakso area. The nearly 900-kilometer trail system offers quality time on wheels to anyone from a self-sufficient mountain goat to boutique hotel-loving gravel gazelle. The five routes consist of two overnighters, a weekender, a 4-5 day spin and an epic 8-10 day adventure. The routes are designed based on the public transport network of the Southern Finland, which makes getting on and off the routes lightning fast and easy.
The most evident thing, what makes the Southern Finland so special for cycle touring is the amount of green, everywhere. Over 40 per cent of the area of the capital of Helsinki is greeneries, making it one of the most green cities in Europe and in the world, and the same applies to most of the cities, towns and villages too. The Uusimaa and Kymenlaakso region is littered with numerous parks, recreational areas and natural parks, which form the backbone of the South by Cycle Bikepacking Trail Network.
The Finnish outdoor culture is strongly based on self-sufficiency and enjoying the simple pleasures of nature. The citizens are encouraged to get out to the wild as much as possible, full year round, what ever the weather - straight out of the cradle. Therefore, the capital area and larger Uusimaa ja Kymenlaakso area is full of shorter and longer recreational routes, flavoured with dozens of publicly managed fire rings, wilderness shelters and free camping areas, which serve the needs of bicycle travellers spot-on.
Finland is called the land of Thousand Lakes, but that is not true. The official number of water bodies, bigger than one hectare, is 56 000 and including the smaller ones too, the number goes up to 168 000. Sticking with the bigger ones, there are over 1700 lakes in the area the South by Cycle routes go through. Consequently there are over 20 beaches for a swim marked along the routes as well as around 20 camping areas and rest stops being by lakes and rivers.
By the Every Man's Rights, in Finland everyone has the freedom to roam the nature, forage, fish (with certain limitations) as well as camp (nearly) anywhere, despite whoever owns or occupies the land. This comes with a responsibility, though. Treating the flora & fauna with utmost respect, leaving no trace and not disturbing other people or the privacy of homes are the foundation of why Everyone Man's Rights do and can sustainably exist.
The South by Cycle routes are designed to be easy to reach, gravel bike & family friendly adventures which can be toured spending the nights in the woods or enjoying the local guesthouses. Riding is mostly car and traffic free on gravel based cycling routes, forest roads and occasionally ease single track, spicing up the game a little. The routes usually cross multiple restaurants, cafés, restaurants and grocery stores a day, so food & water wise touring is straight forward and there is no need to have much provisions at all. There is also a bunch of historical sites along the way as well, including old ironwork villages, castles and old mansions, to mention a few.
The Southern Finland's railway network, the capitol metro line and well-functioning bus routes make the route network very easy to get on and off. The routes are tightly integrated to the local public transportation network and even the furthers points of the route network can be reached from Helsinki in less than two hours.
The South by Cycle Bikepacking Trail Network consists of five routes:
All routes are easy riding, 4-6/10 in overall difficulty, and usually you can get away with any bike with minimum 45mm tires. However, more experienced get away with narrower tires as well. Going light is a bonus, but not a necessity, as riding mostly non-technical and uphills short. Therefore, you can strap on your bike what ever gear you have, however you see fit! The best season for touring in Southern Finland is usually from mid-May to early November, but thanks to the climate change the season start end ending can very from year to year.
Check out our route system map below with services along the way as well detailed route descriptions, maps, GPX files and photos on individual route pages. Welcome to enjoy the #southbycycle!
Photos: Poppis Suomela, Teemu Oksanen and Taneli Roininen